Recent Directing Animation MA graduates, Ed Smith and Ed Bulmer, who graduated earlier this year received grants under an initiative from BBC Four and the BFI, and had their resulting work shown on BBC TV.

Stills from Hair and Frank's Joke

Work from 17 animators including Hair directed and animated by Ed Smith and Frank’s Joke, directed and animated by Ed Bulmer was premiered on BBC Four on the 2nd December in a programme presented by British animator, Osbert Parker, and is now available to watch on BBC iPlayer. The films take a variety of approaches, using styles and techniques ranging from hand-drawn images to live-action puppetry, stop motion, CG, 2D and 3D, covering a diversity of genres from science-fiction to documentary. Though richly varied in tone and content, they have been curated into four groups on the themes of animals, other worlds, obsession and love.  

Frank’s Joke by Ed Bulmer is a comic look at the fickle nature of memory.

Hair by Ed Smith features Mary and Archie who are obsessive shavers, but when Mary rediscovers her love for hair, their relationship begins to unravel.

You can watch both Hair and Frank’s Joke on BBC iPlayer until the end of December 2018.

NFTS graduation animation, Facing It, directed by Sam Gainsborough and produced by Jimmy Campbell-Smith, has been nominated for a prestigious Annie Award for Best Student Film.

The Annie Awards, which recognises the best in animation, is a highly prestigious competition, hosted by The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA in Hollywood. This is the third year in succession that the NFTS has had a nomination and our sixth nomination in six years. NFTS students have won the Best Student Film award twice including last year when the trophy went to Poles Apart directed by Paloma Baeza and produced by Ser En Low.

Facing It Synopsis: As Sean anxiously awaits a meeting in the local pub, he is forced to explore his own unhappy memories and relationships in an evening that will leave him changed forever.

The team:

Sam Gainsborough; Director/Animator/Co-Screenwriter; Jimmy Campbell-Smith, Producer; Louisa Wood, Co-Screenwriter; Bruno Grilo, Cinematographer; Demian Lovett, Lilla Vindics, Assistant Directors; Fiona Guest, Production Designer; Garry David Frost, Production Manager; Jenny Martin, Production Co-Ordinator; Mdhamiri A Nkemi, Editor; Adam Woodhams, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Jack Newton, Composer; Oliver Buus, Lead Compositor, digital Effects; Daniel Quirke, Compositor; Laura Jane Dart, Colourist & Online Editor

Director Sam Gainsborough at work

The 46th Annual Annie Awards will take place on Saturday, February 2, 2019, at UCLA's Royce Hall in Los Angeles, California. Congratulations and good luck to the whole team!



NFTS students and staff today unveiled a sculpture of much loved stop motion animation character Gromit at the School. The sculpture was specially commissioned to mark the upcoming 30th anniversary of Wallace & Gromit being created by NFTS Directing Animation MA alumnus Nick Park at the School for his Oscar® nominated graduation film, A Grand Day Out, which premiered in 1989.

NFTS Director Jon Wardle with Head of Model Making John Lee, Head of Animation, Robert Bradbrook and Model Making and Animation students

NFTS Director, Jon Wardle said: “We are thrilled to unveil our very own Gromit so students, staff and visitors to the School can enjoy and celebrate one of the School’s proudest moments. Nick Park and Wallace & Gromit are very much part of the fabric of the NFTS so it’s incredibly fitting that we now have a lasting tribute to two of the UK’s most loved characters being created right here at the School.”

Bethany Smith, Brand Manager at Aardman said: “It’s fantastic that the NFTS now has a permanent Gromit sculpture. We are very proud of our and Nick’s connection with the School and enjoy working closely with the students on a regular basis to help inspire the next generation of animators.”

Model Making student, Sophie Monks with the sign she made

A bespoke sign to accompany Gromit, explaining the heritage has been made by students on the new Model Making for Animation Diploma course. The sign will encourage students and visitors to take selfies with Gromit using the #WallaceandGromitNFTS hashtag.

NFTS Head of Model Making John Lee taking a selfie!

John Lee, Head of Model Making explained: “We wanted to design and make something that would really bring Wallace and Gromit’s story to life. The main part of the sign is modelled to look like Wallace’s favourite food, cheese and features rocket motifs from Nick Park’s NFTS graduation film, A Grand Day Out. This specially made sign sculpted by NFTS Model Making for Animation student Sophie Monks and the incredible achievements of our animation department are testament to the fact that our students are following in Nick’s footsteps and ensuring that stop motion animation and model making continues to be a hugely important part of the School’s output. I can also reveal that the model making department will be working on something very special to mark the 30th anniversary next year. Watch this space for more information!”

More information on plans to celebrate Wallace & Gromit’s 30th anniversary in 2019 will be announced soon!

‘Facing It’ directed, animated and co-written by recent NFTS Directing Animation MA graduate, Sam Gainsborough has won both the Grand Prix and the Audience Award at this year’s Animage Animation Festival in Brazil, which focusses on films that are independent, authorial, experimental, daring, expressive, politically driven, innovative and original. 

Sam said: "I’m absolutely delighted to win the Animage Grand Prix! There were some other really amazing films in competition so I was completely shocked when I found out we had won the award. And on top of that, to find out Facing It also won the festival audience award, that completely blew me away! I really wanted to make a film that would resonate with different people all over the world, and it's amazing that audiences in different countries, on different continents, are connecting with the film. It’s really exciting! "

Facing It has already won a number of awards including:

  • Animafest Zagreb - Best Student Film
  • Ottawa International Animation Festival - Audience Award
  • KLIK International Animation Festival, Amsterdam - Audience Award
  • Viborg International Animation Festival - Ginger Award for Best Student Film
  • KROK International Animation Festival, Russia - Jury Deploma Award
Sam working on 'Facing It' at NFTS

The Facing It Team:

Sam Gainsborough, Director/Animator/Co-Screenwriter; Jimmy Campbell-Smith, Producer; Louisa Wood, Co-Screenwriter; Bruno Grilo, Cinematographer; Demian Lovett, Lilla Vindics, Assistant Directors; Fiona Guest, Production Designer; Garry David Frost, Production Manager; Jenny Martin, Production Co-Ordinator; Mdhamiri A Nkemi, Editor; Adam Woodhams, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Jack Newton, Composer; Oliver Buus, Lead Compositor; Daniel Quirke, Compositor; Laura Jane Dart, Colourist & Online Editor

For more information on the NFTS Directing Animation MA, please visit and for more information on Facing It, please click here.



BAFTA winning actor, writer and comedian, Paul Whitehouse (The Fast Show; The Death of Stalin) dropped into Beaconsfield to record a voice over for graduation animation, Mother’s Ruin, directed by NFTS Directing Animation MA student, Frank Burgess.

NFTS Directing Animation MA student, Frank Burgess with Paul Whitehouse

Paul will be playing the villain of the story with a cockney accent and sings a song specially composed for the film by NFTS Composing MA student, Roshan Gunga.

Sound Designer, Adam Douglas Jones, Producer, Tom Dexter, Animation director, Frank Burgess, Paul Whitehouse & Composer, Roshan Gunga 

More exciting cast members to be announced soon. Watch this space!

Frank at work on his graduation animation film

For more information about the NFTS Directing Animation MA, please visit

NFTS graduation animation, Hedgehog, directed and animated by Edward Bulmer and produced by Jona Thompson has been recognised with the Student Film Special Jury’s Award at this year’s Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival.

The team said of their win: “Many thanks to SICAF for the award and for welcoming us to the beautiful city of Seoul. Winning would not have been possible without the support of the NFTS."

Hedgehog synopsis:

Gareth suffers with debilitating self doubt... which follows him around in the form of a hedgehog.

The Team:

Edward Bulmer, Director/Animator; Jona Thompson, Producer; Mohsen Shah, Screenwriter; Angela Zoe Neil, Cinematographer; Alessandro Aglietti, Production Designer; Emma Clarke, Celia Moreno Madrigal, Production Managers; Will Winfield, Editor; Nigel Woodford, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Pablo Scopinaro, Composer; Samuel Hunt, Cg Lead; Baitong Monseu, Lead Compositor; Hugh Howlett, Colourist & Online Editor

For more information about the NFTS Directing Animation MA, please visit

The NFTS has triumphed once again affirming its place as one of the world’s leading film schools by winning the top prize in the Animation category of the CILECT Global Film School Awards. This is the fifth time that the NFTS has taken top prizes these prestigious awards having won prizes in two out of three categories in 2017, 2016, 2015 and in 2013, the school made history by becoming the first institution to win first prize in all three categories. This year, 126 film schools submitted entries globally.

NFTS students won first prize in the Animation category with Poles Apart directed by Paloma Baeza and produced by Ser En Low (full credits below).

Poles Apart synopsis:

Poles Apart which won the British Short Animation BAFTA in 2018, tells the story of an unlikely meeting between Nanuk, a tough female polar bear, and Aklak, an enthusiastic male grizzly bear, brought together by their changing habitats. The lack of food in a melting Arctic has left the solitary Nanuk desperately hungry. When the hopeful and eager Aklak crashes into Nanuk’s world, she has to decide if the naïve grizzly bear is her food or her friend.

Paloma Baeza animating Poles Apart

The team:

Director/ Writer/ Animator – Paloma Baeza; Producer, Ser En Low; Cinematographer, Jon Muschamp; Production Designer, Paula Giménez; Production Manager, Florencia Casas; Production Co-ordinator, Sophie Halton; Editor, Zsofia Tálas; Sound Designer & Re-recording Mixer, Morgan Muse; Compser, Hollie Buhagiar; VFX Supervisor, Gillian Simpson; CG Supervisors, Ollie Brummell, Shivani Shah; Colourist & Online Editor, Alex Davis.


Triptych, an NFTS graduation animation, directed by Katia Lom and produced by Nikita Leibovici, has won first prize for Best Experimental Film at the Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF).

RIIFF is a major destination on the festival circuit and is recognised by the Academy as a Qualifying Festival in all short film categories. The festival welcomes filmmakers from all over the world to Rhode Island—one of America’s oldest cities.

About Triptych: A reflection on the nature of time and memory as a daughter empties her late father’s home of his belongings.

Katia said: “It is a huge honour to receive this award. The festival is a major international event highly regarded around the world, recognized both by the Academy Awards and BAFTA.  For our film to be appreciated in this way is very special, particularly as Triptych crosses the genres of film, poetry, fine art, documentary, fiction/narrative and animation, using live action sequences shot on 16mm and animation that was all done in-camera combining a variety of techniques (stop-motion, pixilation, hand-drawn and cut-outs).  Triptych is certainly not a typical NFTS animation film and explores a different approach to narrative that is non-linear.  Shawn Quirke who programmed the festival was a big supporter of the film and it means a lot to have people of such calibre connect with the work in this way and give it recognition.” 

On the inspiration behind the film, Katia continued: “Triptych is based on the true story of my mother at the age of four escaping through the woods at night with her parents what was then Czechoslovakia in the run up to the Slansky trials, the first anti-Semitic show trial in Eastern Europe that took place in 1952.  Although a personal story I wanted to make a film about the universal experience of loss, generational trauma and displacement as a consequence of political and armed conflict.  I worked with Angelina Karpovich (NFTS Screenwriting MA graduate) to shape a visual poem of these ideas and emotions.  Every member of the team also played an important role in then building up around this concept to shape the film.  It really was a team effort, and every element from sound, editing, music and text have become interlinked and could not work without each other.  The film is a testament to the talent at NFTS.  We were also very fortunate to have Lisa Diveney and Simon Stephens as a cast who brought incredible life to the work, and our team are very much indebted to them as well for their contribution.”

The Team:

Katia Lom, Director/Animator/Co-Screenwriter/Production Designer; Nikita Leibovici, Producer; Angelina Karpovich, Co-Screenwriter; Jonathan Flint, Cinematographer; Rosalind Grégoire, Production Designer; Frida Lizine, Celia Moreno Madrigal, Production Managers; Patrick MILES Widdop, Editor; Felipe Bolaño, Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Anna Bauer, Composer; Eryk Hildebrand, Colourist & Online Editor

More information on the film can be found here and information on the NFTS Directing Animation MA can be found at



An incredible 10 NFTS alumni have had their projects selected for this year’s Creative England iFeatures low-budget feature initiative, that has credits including the BAFTA nominated Lady Macbeth produced by NFTS alumna Fodhla Cronin-O’Reilly.

Half the selected features include NFTS graduates as key members of the teams. Each of the projects are from first-time filmmakers and they will be taken through an entire cycle of development. This will include support for all aspects of the creative process, from inception to the stage when they are ready to be introduced to the market. Projects include:

A Voice And Its Echo: Simon Cartwright (writer-director & NFTS Directing Animation MA alumnus); Emilie Jouffroy (producer) and Kamilla Hodol (producer) – both NFTS Producing MA graduates: A woman rediscovers her love of music when she returns home to the Yorkshire Moors and uncovers what might be the entrance to another world.

Here Before: Sophie Vickers (producer & NFTS Producing MA graduate); Stacey Gregg (writer-director) A taut and sophisticated psychological thriller set in Northern Ireland.

AVI: Jonathan Schey (writer-director); Rachelle Constant (producer & NFTS BAME Leadership Programme participant) An eccentric Hassidic Jewish bachelor, struggling to be matched for marriage, gets tempted by life in the outside world.

The White Stork: Meg Campbell (director & NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate); Marie-Elena Dyche (producer & NFTS Producing MA graduate); Oliver Henderson (writer & NFTS Screenwriting MA graduate) A disillusioned mother forms an unlikely relationship with her daughter’s classmate, and becomes convinced that the pair were switched at birth.

Blue Jean: Georgia Oakley (writer-director); Helene Sifre (producer & NFTS Producing MA graduate) In 1988, a closeted teacher is pushed to the brink when a new student threatens to expose her sexuality.

Across the Water: Andrea Harkin (Director & NFTS Directing Fiction MA graduate); Suzanne Cowie (Writer) A terrified young woman must deal with her unwanted pregnancy, in a country where having an abortion can mean life in prison.


The NFTS Animation department has done it again with graduation animation, Inanimate, directed by Lucia Bulgheroni and produced by Lennard Ortmann winning the Special Jury Award at the 2018 BAFTA Student Film Awards, which took place at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Friday 29th June.

Lucia Bulgheroni with her award and the jury
Lucia Bulgheroni with her award and the jury

The Student Film Awards are a global BAFTA initiative, and a key component to BAFTA’s year round commitment to discovering and supporting new talent and career starters, whatever their background, race or gender. This year’s nine finalists were selected from 469 submissions by students at film schools in 35 countries across the world, including Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Israel, Kenya, Lebanon, Russia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

This is Lucia’s second major award having won a prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it was one of just 17 films chosen from 2,426 submissions from film schools worldwide.

The Special Jury Prize was awarded to Lucia by a panel of industry luminaries including Amy Adrion (Half the Picture), Jen McGowan (Kelly & CalRust Creek), Justin Simien (Dear White People), Jon Turteltaub (National TreasureCool Runnings), Kim Yutani (Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival) and writing duo Dick Clement and Ian LaFrenais (The CommitmentsFlushed Away).

Lucia said: "Making a film is an amazing journey. What I learned most is that you have to trust yourself, because when you do that, it is actually when you start to be satisfied by yourself and make great things.”

Stop frame animation, Inanimate is about a woman who loses her certainty about reality and discovers she is much more than just a puppet: Katrine has a normal life, a normal job, a normal boyfriend and a normal apartment in a normal city. Or at least that’s what she thinks, until one day everything starts falling apart literally!

Still from Inanimate

The Team:

Lucia Bulgheroni - Director/Animator; Lennard Ortmann – Producer; Drew Eu – Screenwriter; Ronnie Mcquillan – Cinematographer; Kristina Kovacs - Production Designer; Alex Mcardle - Production Manager; Raphael Pereira – Editor; Louise Burton – Sound Designer & Dubbing Mixer; Jose Pavli – Composer; Niall Harty - Cg Lead; Amy Gibson - Lead Compositor; Hugh Howlett - Colourist & Online Editor

For more information about the NFTS Directing Animation MA, please visit